My book The Source and Significance of Coincidences goes on sale in less than two weeks (!!), but to whet your appetite, here’s another preview of one of the topics it discusses: the role of coincidence in bringing about our destiny.
French novelist André Malraux once said, “Coincidence is the language of destiny.” Many of us have had moments in our lives when things slipped so perfectly and unexpectedly into place that we couldn’t escape the conclusion that they were destined to be. Or we’ve had moments when things were aligning so repeatedly against our efforts that we couldn’t escape the feeling that we were destined to fail at that particular endeavor.
The idea of destiny has a long history, in the Western world as elsewhere. Thousands of years ago in ancient Israel, David wrote his psalm proclaiming to God, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” In ancient Greece, Plato’s Republic recounted the near-death experience of a man named Er, in which he observed souls choosing the lives they would live, complete with information about the level of wealth they would achieve and the amount of disease they would suffer. A millennium or so later, Muhammad said that, just before an angel breathes a soul into a fetus, the angel writes God’s decree about the baby’s future life on a scroll, including their future profession and date of death. And, to take just one example from another part of the globe, the Indonesian Batak believe that, before a soul enters a fetus, it is informed of the experiences it will undergo in that body.
Destiny is also alive and well in the present-day Western imagination. One excellent and entertaining example is the 2010 film The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, the film portrays a world in which every person’s life is carefully scripted and a team of “adjustment” agents works to make sure that no one deviates from their assigned plan. Of course, even in a movie about things going according to plan, things don’t go according to plan. The movie explores the nature of love, will, and sacrifice and culminates in an ending that on its face seems like a victory for free will but still gives a subtle nod to the power of fate.
One might think that, in this day and age, talk of destiny would be limited to literature and cinema, with our scientific culture having “outgrown” the idea of a divine plan. But, in fact, the idea of destiny still survives beyond the realm of fiction. To take just one prominent example, the British statesman Winston Churchill, who on multiple occasions appeared to have been supernaturally protected from death, told an audience in 1943, “I sometimes have a feeling—in fact I have it very strongly—a feeling of interference. … I want to stress it. I have a feeling that some guiding hand has interfered.”
Others offer us even more explicit information on the nature of this guiding hand. For instance, during her near-death experience (NDE), surgeon Mary C. Neal was given the following fascinating information.
In preparation for our journey to earth, we are able to make a basic outline for our life. This is not to imply that we, the humans, are entirely in charge of our life’s design. It is more like God creates it, then we review it and discuss it with our “personal planning” angel. Within the algorithm are written branch points in our lives at which times we may exit, returning to God, or we may be redirected to a different task and goal.
We may be directed to these branch points by our own conscious choice and by our circumstances, or we may be pushed along by angelic intervention.Mary C. NEAL, To Heaven and back: a doctor’s extraordinary account of her death, heaven, angels, and life again, p. 98.
Neal then specifically states that angels “are the ones orchestrating the ‘coincidences’ that occur so commonly in our lives.”
This brief description of Neal’s is an excellent summary of my own conclusions after years of research into the reality of destiny, a term which I use as synonymous with ‘life plan’. Evidence gleaned from many different quarters corroborates what Neal was told in her NDE about our lives’ being planned, and I lay out much of that evidence in Chapter 17 of The Source and Significance of Coincidences. The sources of this evidence include:
- dreams, waking visions, and spontaneous premonitions of future events,
- voices informing people of future events or giving them instructions about such events,
- spontaneous memories had by both children and adults of a plan for their lives established before they were born, particularly with regard to the choice of parents,
- deathbed visions,
- near-death experiences,
- messages and impressions gained through mediumship, and
- spontaneous spiritual experiences.
I have been reading material from all of these sources for almost a decade now, and it is amazing what a coherent picture emerges from them: a picture of a realm in which, before one’s birth, one cooperates with spiritual advisors to lay out a plan for one’s earthly life–a plan that, as I show in my book, is often kept on track with the aid of a well-timed “coincidence” or two.
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